Raised Fist

From the North

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Swedish hardcore band Raised Fist were over 20 years into their existence -- long-running and growing in both overall popularity and musical intensity as the years burned on -- by the time of sixth album From the North, a burning, nonstop show of punk power, with the band combining classic hardcore tactics with a slightly metal attitude. The album's 11 songs sound meticulously constructed and long-labored, shifting through various styles as the album goes on. The first two songs, "Flow" and "Chaos," both employ driving riffs and rock-solid midtempo drum grooves that vocalist Alexander "Alle" Hagman explodes over, delivering a constant stream of screaming lyrics in a way that's half '80s youth crew hardcore, half '90s rap. Overdriven production keeps the entire mix in the red, matching the band's ferocious performances throughout. Former Dark Funeral drummer Matte Modin (who's been with the band since its 2006 album, Sound of the Republic) is a standout player, his understated but powerful playing shining especially on parts like the complex breakdown of "Sanctions." The album's first half showcases the more exuberant side of Raised Fist, while they dip into more trudging metal reflections as the record continues. "Ready to Defy" is a moody, shape-shifting portrait of anxiety and anger, and "Until the End" follows suit. The band never lets tempos lag for long, however, following these headier metal moments with relentless blasts of hardcore speed like "Gates."

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